New Delhi: India is responding to the twin challenges of terrorism and expansionism with great courage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his Independence Day address on Sunday, in a veiled reference to cross-border terrorism from Pakistan and Chinese activities.
The prime minister also mentioned the government’s resolve to strengthen the armed forces and promote defence manufacturing as he cited the construction of the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant.
In his around 90-minute speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Modi referred to the 2016 surgical strikes and the Balakot airstrikes in 2019, saying they sent a strong message about India’s resoluteness to take tough decisions.
“Today, the world is looking at India from a new perspective and this vision has two important aspects…One terrorism and the other expansionism. India is fighting these two challenges and responding to them astutely and with great courage,” the prime minister said.
His comments came as India continues to deal with Pakistan-backed cross-border militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and the eastern Ladakh border row along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
India and China have already completed the disengagement of troops and weapons from a number of friction points in the region.
“India has given a strong signal to its enemies by carrying out surgical and airstrikes. This tells us that India is changing. India can take the most difficult decisions and is not reluctant to implement them,” Modi said.
India carried out surgical strikes in September 2016 across the Line of Control in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in response to an attack on an army camp in Uri.
Indian fighter jets bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan on February 26, 2019, 12 days after the terror outfit claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Kashmir that killed 40 soldiers.
Talking about defence manufacturing, Modi also talked about the production of fighter jets and submarines in the country.
“You have seen, just a few days ago, India launched its first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant for trials at sea,” the prime minister said.
India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant last week successfully completed a five-day maiden sea voyage, ahead of its planned induction into the Indian Navy by August next year.
The construction of the aircraft carrier has put India in a select group of countries that includes the US, the UK, Russia, France and China having capability to construct aircraft carriers.
The prime minister said the government is committed to promoting self-reliance in the defence sector.
In another announcement, Modi said the government has decided to open all Sainik schools to girls.
At present, 33 Sainik schools are operating in the country.
During his Independence Day speech Sunday, the prime minister said that two-and-a-half years ago, the maiden experiment of admitting girls in Sainik schools was carried out in Mizoram.
“Now, the government has decided that all the Sainik schools in the country will also be open for the daughters of the country,” he said.
Sainik schools are run by the Sainik Schools Society which is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence.PTI